49ers Blog and Q&A

News, notes and reader questions about the San Francisco 49ers

August 22, 2008
Transcript: Mike Nolan talks about JTO, QBs

This is what's known in the business as a "lazy man's blog." But some of you really ardent (read: nutty) 49ers fans are bound to find it interesting. Enjoy ...

RE: What was the determining factor [on starting J.T. O'Sullivan] and why announce it now?

"I announced it now because we've made our decision. The determining factor was, like I said, he's probably got the better command between the three [quarterbacks] right now. He played with consistency and we moved the ball well as a unit. We scored points, we did the things that I think our really important playing that position. I don't want to take away anything from Shaun and Alex though. I still have a lot of confidence in them and I mean what I said all along and that is that we do have three guys that can win games for us and I'm very confident that J.T. [O'Sullivan] is at the point where he's our best man for the job right now."

RE: On Mike Martz talking to you about the importance of accuracy for the quarterback:

"We don't actually say accuracy. Obviously when you're seven-of-eight [passing] that means you're pretty accurate. So we kind of go by it from a statistical standpoint to answer that question that you asked me Matt [Barrows]. Does that make sense?"

RE: It does.

"We don't say 'well he's accurate today or he wasn't'. We kind of look at the numbers and say' we've got to do a better job or something.' That is very important, you'll hear a lot of quarterback coaches and very successful coordinators talk a lot about accuracy and it's very true. Accuracy also has to do with the ability to throw the ball. Because sometimes, your lack of accuracy is due to [your strength or motion]. But anyhow, that's an important thing"

RE: Are there any thoughts of parting ways with Alex Smith now than to have a number one overall pick on the team and not playing this season?

"No, and we have not even had that discussion, nor Scot [McCloughan] nor myself. And by the way this discussion was one that Scot and I, Mike Martz and Ted Tollner all had a lot of input in, but we have not had that discussion.

RE: What did you tell J.T. [O'Sullivan] and what was his reaction?

"I spoke with all three quarterbacks about an hour ago and I spoke with them individually. J.T. was quite as he normally is, just listening to what I had to say. I could tell that obviously he was pleased with the decision. But he's a hard man to read, as you guys well know. I wasn't trying to read him either. I was trying to let him know that he was our starter and we have a lot of confidence in him, that he'll do a great job and that we're behind him all the way. Everything's good. I thought that both Alex [Smith] and Shaun [Hill] handled it as well as you would hope to or as well as you could. That's a tough situation, all three wanted to be the starter, but only one could be. But I do believe that in stressing the importance of the two guys and their importance to our football team in going forward they both recognized how important it was, in their role, for us to be a good football team. That's real important."

RE: Was the decision unanimous, coach?

"Yes, it was."


RE: Does J.T. [O'Sullivan] still need more time with the first team?

"The one dynamic that changes this week going into it...well, I guess you could say two. The first one is that hopefully were going to have a few receivers for this game that we have not had up to this day. [Arnaz] Battle, [Bryant Johnson] and Ashley [Lelie]. We may not have all three, maybe two of the three. But anyhow, that changes one dynamic because you want them to work with the first unit if you can. The second thing is that we still want to make sure that the first unit continues to work together. They'll work in practice, that's extremely important also but getting into a game situation we'll want to get them in a little bit of work. We have not decided right now how extensive that will be. It certainly will not be anything expected to be anything more than the first quarter, if that long, but there will be some work in there. We do want to get the other two quarterbacks in some work in this game because it will really important. You know like most games, we'll use it for that factor."

RE: What is the status of the offensive linemen going into the last [preseason] game?

"Nothing is for sure definite. Just like David [Baas]. I believe that Baas will practice this week, but don't know exactly what that means by weeks end whether he can play or not. But if he does practice well [We'll see]. We've got Adam Snyder I'm not sure what his status will be quite yet or if he needs another week because of that ankle he twisted the other day. Most of those questions I wouldn't be able to answer right now by Saturday or Sunday. But I'll tell you this, I'm hopeful; thinking 60/ 40 thinking that we'll have those guys back. Snyder may be little bigger question but the other guys, including Michael Robinson, would have a better chance to work in practice this week.


RE: Are you absolute sure that David Baas will return to practice tomorrow?

"It's my expectation that he will unless something changes. I have not met with the [trainers] yet today but I did meet with Scott [McCloughan] for quite sometime. He eluded to me because he has spoken the [physician's]. Naturally I have some other meetings that I'm always in so I don't get a chance to see everyone at this time but I'll see him before the day is [over].

RE: Mike, are you concerned at all that Alex [Smith] will now be considered a bust because he's not starting for you this year?

"Well, the perception will be wrong if that is the perception. That's all I can say. It's wrong."

RE: Why is that wrong?

"Well, because I think he is getting better and better right now. He needs consistency and continuity which we all do and he's getting that right now. He's getting a very detailed offense from a detailed coach and I think he performs very well in that environment. I believe it's just not accurate to say that about Alex. I've got a lot of confidence in Alex I think he's matured a lot this year and I'm encouraged by the things he's done. He was very upbeat and positive in our meeting today amidst the bad news, but he's optimistic about his possibilities of really being a good quarterback."

RE: Following up that question and answer coach, you and the organization were so tied up with Alex as the top pick in 2005. You think, at this point, it's any kind of a problem for you that he's not the guy now? I just mean in terms of drafting skill.

"I don't see it as a problem. We want to play our best players that give us the best chance to win, but that doesn't mean if you are not at that point, at this point in your career that you are a bust. That's not true at all. Alex has a lot ability a lot potential and I think he is going to be a very good quarterback in this league. He's just not there at this point. I would say that this hadn't been a case of Shaun [Hill] and Alex [Smith] not performing well. This has been a case of J.T. O'Sullivan performing very well and that's where we are."

RE: Is this a load of your mind to have this situation settled at least for the start of the regular season?

"Well I know the questions the next time we get together guys won't be about who's starting quarterback. That's a load, yeah. For our football team's sake, as I said awhile ago, it's time to get ready for the season and in particular our opening game. We've got Arizona and that is the only game we have--so it puts more focus on where it should be going forward."

RE: When was the decision actually made? Did you and Mike [Martz], Ted [Tollner] and Scot [McCloughan] get together on the plane home? I'm just wondering when the decision was actually made.

"As you know in all decisions, as you go through the process--I don't know how to say it better, you just kind of go through a process. Who did better here. Who there and who is getting the string of days together that are better than somebody else. Who gives us the best chance to win. I would say yesterday coming back from the flight was probably where we solidified what we are doing, but all of us were confident in the decision."

RE: I was just wondering if any of the quarterbacks asked or if it was communicated to them about sticking with one quarterback throughout the season or not or just giving them a quick hook if things go poorly early on?

"I spoke to each quarterback and I said the same thing to all of them and that was I am backing our quarterback 100 percent. J.T. O'Sullivan is our quarterback and I'm expecting him to succeed, but we all know we can't control everything in this league and whether he's getting his shoe lace fixed and he's out of the game or someone happens to get nicked, whatever it be, we all have to stay ready to do this job at our very best. So, they know that I will back J.T. Again, that's kind of how I told him to them and I think they respect that because when you become the quarterback you want to know that they are behind you and they believe in you."

RE: Mike, was this a decision that the ownership was involved in at all? They've invested a lot of money in two quarterbacks and those quarterbacks are the second and third choices right now. Is this something that you've had to explain to John York?

"In fairness to John and Jed [York] both, Scot and I have kept them abreast of all our discussions in our meetings. So, they are aware of what's being said and they ask questions when we would talk to them about, 'Why do you see it this way,' this and that. So they have been kept abreast, but have they said, 'You have to play this one or that one,' and put pressure on the situation? Not at all. They have been very open. They just wanted to know how it was going and that was about it. They have been fully aware of what has been taking place."


RE: Mike, how is Allen Rossum?

"Allen is sore today. Outside of that I'm not really sure what he's doing. If he we're playing today he would be out. He's sore. I think he's okay from a severity standpoint but he's pretty darn sore. He took a pretty good shot. That guy outweighed him by about three times."


RE: You don't know how long he would be out?

"I don't at this time, but like I said I haven't had a chance to talk directly with [Jeff Ferguson], but Scot said in passing to me when we quickly went through a couple of the injuries, I don't know exactly what he said, but my gut feeling right now is he said he's pretty sore today and we'll see how he is tomorrow and the next day. I would expect him to play this week. I don't think it was that severe, but he may miss a practice or two. By the way do you guys know the schedule? If you don't I'll just give it to you quick. We are going to practice on Saturday. Sunday we'll be off. The practice on Saturday will be at about 1:00. They'll be here in the morning, they'll be here from 8:00 on. It will be similar to an in-season Wednesday or Thursday on Saturday and then Sunday's off. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday will be similar schedules or the same schedules or the same schedules as in season on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday. We'll give them the day off Thursday, the day before the game. We'll meet and all that, and then we'll play San Diego on Friday. So it will be as close to a normal week as you can get from a time standpoint."

RE: Will Frank Gore and Issac [Bruce] play in this next game?

"Tom, that's a great question. We briefly just went over those two names and one other, Patrick [Willis]. Anyway, right now it was just in passing. We kind of said, well what about these guys. Let's revisit it because there's a lot going on right now as far as meetings. It's on hold right now because no final decision has been made, but you are on target for the guys we are talking about."

RE: When Brandon Moore was released you said that you were doing so to give him a chance to hopefully latch on with somebody else before the rosters were set and that indeed was the case for him. I'm just wondering if you'd consider letting any other veterans go now rather than wait?

"No. Right now, no."

RE: Mike, I just had one more question. I know Mike [Martz] has been on the sideline the last two games. How has that been working out, and has it just been he wanted to have more communication with the players on the field?

"That would be a good question to ask Mike. Why don't you ask him that. From my standpoint watching it, I like there to be a commander-and-chief on the field on a particular side of the ball. Sometimes when I was a coordinator I was up because I felt I had a good second lieutenant whatever you call those guys, if I had a good one on the field. Not that Mike doesn't have one on the field, but it is a new offense and I believe he feels it's better for him to be down there communicating with the guys, but I think you would get a much more accurate answer if you ask Mike."

RE: When Zak Keasey caught Devin Hester in the endzone, should that have been a safety?

"I have not had the chance to look at tape, but everyone that has come in has said that it was ruled wrong and I can't remember exactly what they said. I know at the time, my point to them was that if he had caught that in bounds and then gone into the endzone, then if he was tackled into the endzone then it would not have been a safety, but the ball should have been placed at the two [yard line]. Now I've gotten conflicting things back here today, but I haven't really--I'll get the final answer before the day is out, because I'll have our people research it and give it to me. It hasn't been one of my priorities right now, so I can't answer it truthfully. I don't believe it was accurately done. I don't know if that means we got a safety or the ball at the two. That's where I'm led to believe right now, but I have not had Mike Pereira tell me that."



MATTHEW BARROWS

Matt was born in Blacksburg, Va., and attended the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1995, went to Northwestern for a journalism degree a year later, and got his first job at a South Carolina daily in 1997. He joined The Bee as a Metro reporter in 1999 and started covering the 49ers in 2003. His favorite player of all time is Darrell Green.

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